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A culinary cultural lesson with crab salad roulade

crab salad roulade

When I began my culinary classes at Rowan College at Burlington County, I only had experience as a line cook. However, in the past year I have had great learning experiences, including the opportunity to work with professional chefs. My heritage, and the experiences I have had at RCBC, inspire my culinary creations.

I have a lot of knowledge of South Asian food culture. In South Asia, the people inherit an abundance of fresh seafood during all seasons. I have been fortunate to experience this abundance and wanted to bring a taste of home to the states with my recipe for crab salad roulade. This dish is a combination of Europe’s cuisine, but I tried to work in a nod to South Asia.

I wanted the texture of the dish to be something unique and stimulate the taste buds, so I came up with the squid ink cracker, which is made of tapioca and a few drops of squid ink. The textures and flavors of the cracker and the crab salad roulade are a match made in heaven.

For the salad dressing, the saying, “fusion is confusion” stuck out in my mind, so I went with the original and made a white sauce, also known as Béchamel sauce. The sauce gives the salad a creamy taste and if you perfect the method of making it, it will be cheese-like. So with the cheesy sauce in my hand, I just needed a little bit of magic to complete the recipe. To enhance the flavor of the sea and admire the taste of the crab, I decided to add the surimi to balance the flavor, plus it is a budget-conscious choice compared to fresh lump crabmeat. I also added yellow zucchini, chives, cucumber, and red radish.

This finalized dish tantalizes your taste buds with a variety of flavors. Although I combined different cultures’ cuisines, the end dish translates very well and pleases just about anyone’s palate.   

Crab Salad Roulade 

Serves 2


200g crab meat, prefer jumbo crabmeat

150g crabstick or surimi 

1/4 cup cucumber, diced. prefer 2-3 cucumbers (choose longer cucumbers over thicker)

1/4 cup yellow zucchini, diced

1 bunch of Italian parsley

2 tablespoons chives 

1-2 red radish for garnish

4 teaspoon lemon zest

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Bag of mini tapioca, prefer black or white

3 tsp of squid ink

2 1/2 cups heavy cream 

4 oz butter

4 oz flour

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste 

White pepper

Garnish (optional): 

1/2 tsp pickled mustard seed

2 oz of blackberry


Béchamel sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. 
  3. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

Squid ink cracker:

  1. Cook the tapioca for 20-30 minutes with a medium high heat. Remember not to overcook it, otherwise it will be watery. Cook until all the pearls become crystal clean.
  2. Dry it out, then in the mixing bowl, mix it with the squid ink.
  3. Spread it out in a layer, and dehydrate it in the oven at 175 for 3-4 hours or until it is all dried out.
  4. Fry it in hot oil before serving to give it crunch.

Crab salad roulade:

  1. Drain and press dry 200g of fresh lump crabmeat and gently pick through the meat to make sure there are no shell remnants. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, gently fold in all of the above ingredients (zucchini, cucumber, chives, parsley, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, surimi, salt and white pepper). Taste the mixture. The crab salad needs to taste bright. Add more fresh lemon juice and salt if necessary.
  3. Once the crab salad is ready, warm up the cream until it is hot. Do not let the cream boil; fold the cream mixture into the crab salad. Refrigerate to allow the crab salad to set.
  4. In the meantime, prepare the radishes for wrapping the roulade. Wash radishes thoroughly, trim off both ends and shave into thin coins using a mandolin.  
  5. The slices will be about 1.5 millimeters thick. They should not be paper-thin. Blanch very briefly in salted boiling water (2 seconds) and drain immediately onto a tray lined with paper towels.  
  6. Press dry with paper towels. The radish coins should be pliable but with the red rims bright and intact. If the radishes are cooked for too long, the red color will bleed into the white part of the radish and the color will fade very quickly.
  7. Wrap the radish coins around the crab salad.
  8. Place the squid ink cracker on the plate with the crab salad roulade, garnish with berry and pickled mustard before serving. 

This article was authored by Huy Hoang, a culinary arts student at Rowan College at Burlington County’s Culinary Arts Center in Mount Holly. rcbc.edu/culinary

This article was written for the Courier-Post's Taste